The Bone Series is focused on the remains of a form. The pieces imply what is left after the flesh is gone or pieces that need to be reassembled to understand what once was. These sculptures take their forms from the skeletal structures of radiolarians and the movements of jellyfish. They are made with very thin pieces of nearly translucent porcelain and some with high temperature wire that give movement and breathe life into the skeletal structures.
Fun Facts that inspire my work:
About Jellyfish: Jellyfish have been a part of the marine ecosystem for over 500 million years and they have no plan to depart. They love warm waters and can handle low oxygen environments, which means that rising ocean temperatures and higher acidification levels the ocean is becoming a place where jellyfish thrive. Overfishing of jellyfish predators like tuna and swordfish adds to their population and this makes some scientistic think that jellyfish just might take over the world… or at least the ocean. Anybody want to go for a swim?
About Radiolarians: Radiolarians are not well understood but are thought to hold clues to the evolution of life on Earth, as well as be an insight into changing climate conditions. They absorb carbon from the atmosphere when alive and trap it as they sink to the deep sea floor when they die. They have existed for at least 550 million years and are found in all the world’s oceans at all depths but many populations are declining due to warming temperatures.
When you work in a series, it’s always a little sad to have that one last piece that just hasn’t found it’s home yet. Such is the case with this last piece from the Lichen Series | Walnut Trees, it is an art orphan still looking for a happy home.
I created three of these pieces using slabs of California Black Walnut that came from a fallen tree in downtown Santa Cruz. I had custom steel bases fabricated to hold the slabs and made hundreds of small ceramic forms to attach to the wood. The ceramic forms were inspired by a type of shelf fungus often found on decaying wood. The ceramic pieces follow the curves and flow of the woodgrain on both sides of the planks giving movement to the otherwise rooted pieces. They are large and stately but only take up about one square foot of space, they are modern and rustic to fit with any style home and honestly; these are some of my favorite pieces I have made and I can’t believe this one hasn’t found a home yet.
Two of them are homed in Los Gatos and this one is still available for purchase. If you’re interested please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the most intriguing spots within our new property in Baja is a small section of arroyo that cuts through a corner of the property. Initially, we were a little reluctant to buy property where we’d have to deal with the occasional moments of insane amounts of water but I have to say that it’s become one of my favorite spots to explore. The plants are different, the sandy soil lends itself to wanting to sit in and enjoy the space and it’s amazing to imagine how and where the water might flow through the space. So I decided that this would be the first spot I’d create an ephemeral art piece. The beauty of this being my own property is that I’m able to leave it installed and see what actually happens to it, I may add to it or it may dissolve on it’s own… time will tell… enjoy…
Since we’ve had a driveway and small camping area cleared on our property, the first thing I did was buy a table and set up my mini-studio under the shade of a Torote tree. It’s been a little bit of a challenge to deal with the intense sun and some wind but I’ve figured out a system that seems to be working. I’m continuing to work on my smaller Bone Series Medusa and Urchin forms while I’m here and will be able to fire them in a friends kiln before I make the journey north again. I’m hoping to have a large batch of these to show and get up in the online shop next year.
In the meantime, I’m definitely finding inspiration here in the desert and the beaches. I’ve been finding and collecting all sorts of bits of bone and wood that inspire but my latest prize possession is this pelican skull below. The center photo is a close up of the fibrous structure of the beak connecting to the skull, I love how fragile and also how strong it is. I also love how translucent the bone is, so reminiscent of working in thin pieces of porcelain.
After quite a few trials and errors on my extra large Rock Candy pieces, I’m pleased to report that I ~finally~ had a kiln load of successes! Phew!
This stage of the creative process is always the most exciting; the challenge figuring it all out, the emotional rollercoaster of cracking the kiln lid to see if there is success, the frustration of figuring one part out while another part becomes the problem, it’s all the best. Now, I feel like I can go into production mode and start cranking out some big pieces, feeling confidant that when I open the kiln I’ll have what I’m expecting. This stage is also exciting because now I get to really start to play with color and I’m looking forward to getting these into a garden space soon!
Turquoise piece is 20″x 12″x 13″, Blue is 20″x 15″x 12″ and the green is 10″x7″x6″
piti piti, zwazo fè nich | little by little the bird builds its nest – Haitian Proverb
I learned this proverb when I was working in Haiti years ago and it definitely applies to my studio practice these days…
Since the ash has stopped falling from the skies here, I decided to start working with embedding my ceramic pieces in resin. It’s been an exciting but very slow process to get some actual results. I’m working with a new-to-me resin product that is non-toxic, which is great and it’s also easy to work with, and is supposed to be extremely resistant to yellowing with age. The only drawback is that I can only pour an 1/8th of an inch layer at a time and I need 5 hours between pours, so it is a very, very slow process to pour pieces that are over an inch thick, but even with that, I think that these results will be worth it.
My husband Nate built me (yet another!) contraption that I can use to modify for different size circles and so far it seems to be working great. Since this is still in the R&D stages and this resin product isn’t the cheapest, I decided to make only one piece to start. I poured a solid base layer to start, let it cure and then started layering in a few ceramic parts and have continued doing that for nine individual pours so far. I love how clear the product is and how these pieces really seem like they are floating in the resin. They also leave shadows when the light is strong, which adds to the sense of depth. So little by little I’m building these out but very excited to see how they finally finish up when I remove them from the mold!
Since all of California seems to be on fire including many of our favorite camping hiking spots, we’ve been spending A LOT more time in the studio these days. And I’m so grateful to have this space to work in when everything else is closed up.
I’ve been focused on two (sort of three) separate projects. One is building my Rock Candy Series really big. If you’ve been following along on my posts, you already know that this has been a challenge. I’ve been getting a ton of cracks along the seams and haven’t been able to figure out why. But, the good news is that I’m making progress and getting one step closer to figuring these out.
Below is a photo of three pieces hanging on the wall of my studio. The two larger ones are about 2 feet across to give a sense of scale. The dark blue one is the only one that is actually successful with only one small crack in the bottom. The other two are covered in cracks, but I’ve realized the difference between how I built each of them and I’m understanding where the problems lie.
Of course the latest one to come out of the kiln had no cracks, but apparently had an air bubble in one wall, so that wall exploded during the bisque firing. That was disappointing to say the least but, I’m committed to seeing these challenges through to be able to make these pieces in mass. So stay tuned on this…
The other project I’ve been working on is creating my Bone Series | Medusa pieces. It’s quite the dichotomy to go from making these huge heavy stoneware rock forms to super thin and fragile porcelain pieces. It feels good to have success in making these and is a good reminder that it took me a few years and a few residencies of focused time to be able to make them. I love how delicate and whimsical they are, especially when they bounce slightly as they balance on the wire tips. I’m hoping to make a large amount of these pieces and have them up in my online shop soon.
The third project I technically haven’t started yet is embedding my flat porcelain pieces in resin. I consulted resin artists, I bought all my materials and was ready to start and then the ash started falling from the sky. We had so much debris in the air here that it didn’t seem like a good idea to start pouring resin and risk getting little bits stuck in it. But now we’re on our second day of blue skies and I’m hoping to start a pour in the next few days. Very excited about the potential with these pieces.
I finally got a webpage up showcasing a selection of the work I made while I was at my 3 month long residency in Taiwan. Yay!
These pieces are at CC Gallery in New Taipei City and available for sale. Four others were selected by the Yingge Ceramics Museum for their permanent collection. To check out these porcelain pieces from my Bone Series | Medusas, click here!